Emmanuel Macron ended his tour of Africa on Thursday in Guinea-Bissau, where he met with President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, to talk mainly about security in the Sahel. The French president criticized Russia’s “described unilateral aggression” in Ukraine. The previous day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also completed a mini-tour of several African countries, where he rejected the attitude of the West.
After Cameroon, then Benin, Emmanuel Macron completed his tour of Africa on Thursday July 28, with a meeting with President Umaro Sissoco Embalo in Guinea-Bissau. On the menu of discussions of the one who recently took over the presidency of ECOWAS: the security situation in the Sahel.
“The Bissau-Guinean president went to the Elysee Palace last October, Emmanuel Macron then declared that his corresponding visit confirmed a change in the relationship between Paris and Bissau”, explains our special correspondent Charlotte Urien-Tomaka. “Guinea-Bissau is a Portuguese-speaking country surrounded by French-speaking countries, and Umaro Sissoco Embalo wants a harmony. [avec la France].”
During the press conference with his counterpart, the French president once again criticized Russia, describing the war in Ukraine as “a characteristic unilateral aggression” on the part of Moscow.
“Today, on European soil, the only power that challenges the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a person is Russia,” he said.
Emmanuel Macron also considers that the “de facto” collusion between the Malian junta and the Russian group Wagner is ineffective in the fight against terrorism.
“It is clear that the choices made by the current Malian junta and the de facto cooperation with the Wagner militia are particularly ineffective in the fight against terrorism”, he said, while the country is affected by this days of a wave of large-scale terrorists. attacks.
The other day, in Benin – a former French colony – Emmanuel Macron accused Russia of being “one of the last powers of the colonial empire” and launching a new form of “hybrid warfare” in the world.
The French president continued to raise his voice against Vladimir Putin’s policy, saying that “when we say things and try to qualify them. […] we give ourselves in the way [de peser sur les évènements]Since his arrival in Africa, he has increased criticism of Moscow while, at the same time, the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, is also traveling to Africa to prove his attachment to the continent.
“Russia was one of the last colonial imperial powers, [en décidant] to invade a neighboring country [l’Ukraine] to protect his interests there,” said Emmanuel Macron during a press conference with his Beninese counterpart, Patrice Talon, in Cotonou. “I am speaking on a continent [l’Afrique] who suffered from colonial imperialism”, he emphasized.
In Yaoundé and then in Cotonou, the French president sought to warn African capitals against the “new type of global hybrid war” launched by Moscow, which “decided that information, energy and food military instruments placed in service. [de la guerre en Ukraine]”.
On Tuesday, he bluntly criticized the “hypocrisy”, heard “especially on the African continent”, consisting of the vague acknowledgment that Russia is carrying out “a unilateral aggression. [en Ukraine]because there are diplomatic pressures”.
Responding from afar, Sergei Lavrov said in Uganda that Russia is not responsible for the “energy and food crises”, denouncing “a very noisy campaign around it”.
Russia was also targeted by Emmanuel Macron for his activism in Africa, especially through the sulphurous paramilitary group Wagner, which, according to him, “in support of even weak political powers that struggle to gain or not legitimate juntas” in the Central African Republic and Mali.
Paris and the new “win-win partnership”
On the contrary, the French president promoted his new vision of the relationship between France and Africa, presenting Benin as one of the countries to test this desire to establish a “win-win partnership”. The relations with Paris “are free and removed the weight of the past”, welcomed the Beninese president, who did not hide the conspiracy established by his French counterpart.
The main reason for this development is linked to the return to Benin of France of 26 works from the royal treasures of Abomey (south), capital of the Kingdom of Dahomey, which were looted in 1892 by French colonial troops. “These restorations change the image of France, showing that it is possible to establish a relationship of equality and to eliminate the Beninese feeling that the French still have a superiority complex” , explained José Pliya, adviser to Patrice Talon for inheritance.
After visiting the exhibition of these treasures in Cotonou, Emmanuel Macron assured that this process will continue as the Beninese want to return to the country other symbolic works, such as the sculpture of God Gou, held in the Louvre Museum.
Criticized for choosing to visit Cameroon, ruled for forty years by President Biya, and Benin, accused by the authorities of excesses, Emmanuel Macron remained silent on the issue of human rights and the protection of democracy during a joint press conference with the President of Benin.
However, during his visit, Beninese courts ordered the release of 30 opponents arrested during the April 2021 presidential election, marred by violence.
In addition to a political crisis, Benin is facing increasing jihadist attacks in the north, on the border with Burkina Faso and Niger. During this visit, the French president affirmed that France “always supports” Benin for its security, especially in terms of intelligence and equipment.
Moscow and the choice of “the universe (in which) we live”
During a trip to Ethiopia on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on developing countries, especially in Africa, not to support a world dominated by the United States, warning them that they will suffer the wrath of the United States next.
“It is up to us to decide if we want a world where a West […] fully subservient to the United States […] believes that he has the right to decide when and how to promote his own interests without respecting international law,” said Sergei Lavrov. He spoke to an audience of mostly African diplomats at the Russian embassy in Ethiopia, the last stop of a mini-African trip that also took him to Egypt, Congo-Brazzaville and Uganda.
During his 20-hour stay in Addis Ababa, headquarters of the African Union (AU), Sergueï Lavrov met especially with his Ethiopian counterpart, Demeke Mekonnen, also Deputy Prime Minister.
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“The West created a system based on certain principles – market economy, fair competition, inviolability of private property, presumption of innocence… , explained Sergey Lavrov. “And I have no doubt- two that if necessary, they will not hesitate to do the same in any other country […] upset them one way or another.”
According to the head of Russian diplomacy, “we are going through a very important period in history. A period where we will all decide which universe we will live in, for our children and our grandchildren: one universe based on the United Nations Charter. […] or a world ruled by law based on force, the law of the strongest”.
He denied that Russia, through its intervention in Ukraine, is responsible for the current increase in food and energy prices, which is felt hard in Africa, citing in particular the policies of the Covid-19 pandemic and transfer of energy. in the United States and Europe.
“Yes, the situation in Ukraine has a further negative impact on the food markets. But not because of the ‘Russian special operation in Ukraine’, rather because of the totally inadequate reaction of the West announcing sanctions and harming the availability of food. in the markets,” he said.